an eighteen record set

Steve and Consuelo

By Diomedes | Robert O'Reilly | 18 Apr 2023



Consuelo four years later, living in Oregon, but not with Steve.

“Monday afternoon Marge comes by and gives me a haircut and another party starts with her and her friend Andy joining us. Then dinner at Marge’s with Mart. and Andy, then I to B’s then all of us to the bar ‘The Albatross’ 11 to 12, then B’s house, Marge, Andy and I doing lines for one ½ hours till ‘La” comes home and starts arguing with ‘B’".

She was supposed to bring me another ‘friend’ that night but didn’t. The three of us go off to my place for many more lines and an exceptionally fine all-night conversation about western and non-western cultures, Andy being a university student. We ended that pleasant eve with me reading them “To a Mousy” by Robert Burns, translating all the Scottish words as they occurred, and proving my point that it’s one of the finest poems ever written. Neither of them had seen it before. But both were more than delighted to hear it.

Tuesday I take it easy but not Wednesday:

“Thursday 9 a.m. Up again all night doing many lines, first at the warehouse with John Seebach and then Jim, going out for a late-night dinner at one-thirty to Alameda at Jim’s suggestion, to see some cute, Asian, petite waitress…We drop Jim home and J.S. and I settle in for a six-hour long conversation at my place (and many lines) about our friends, friendship and women, very frank and fair.

“He tells me: that I, as a real strange oddball in life, only attract women in limbo and lost, and not as much convinced of my strangeness as they have no reference points of their own. Perhaps he’s right. He also curiously remarked that all along (these eight years) I’ve had what he thought ‘an author’s face’, regular features but sad eyes, always observing and always setting people in a reactive situation to watch them from a distance. Others have remarked that I have ‘sad’ eyes. Strange thing is, I’ve always felt happy inside…

“I replied that I think I could be very happy with quiet, meek Sanita right now, settling in together for six months in a studious, healthy environment with scenery and walks and hikes and trips by car around the U.S., perhaps a plane trip to Sweden to check up on Suzanne and child, surely a trip to Canada to meet mother and relatives. These are my current dream plans.

“I called her up last night after she left a message on Louie’s phone. Her father-in-law, Harvey, had passed away unexpectedly last morning for her and her mother to find dead in bed. He died in his sleep and was in full health the day before, being just a few months retired from the U.S. postal service. She had an unfortunate, complicated state of paperwork to go through, and vulture relatives on his side wanting to barge in and mar the tragic scene. (They wanted his estate. He’d lived with Betty, (Sanita’s mother) for over ten years but common law, never married. She did end up in court getting his full pension, which supports her to this day. She’d never worked and was poor. I felt very fond of her even before I called, ever since her sweet letter and now pity adds to the longing. I offered all I could, if she needed any money, other than that she had my sympathy and my longing to see her soon".

So there it is, a ten-page snapshot of myself at my drug-fueled, derelict best. The journal goes on another twenty-five pages, half retelling the beautiful conversation with John S. the last half a tirade upon modern society being plastic, interspersed with pleasant thoughts of living with Sanita, like short bursts of sunlight through the gray clouds.

“I was thinking of Sanita yesterday, fondly thinking of how she could improve my condition, whether we could contrive and live a lifestyle pleasant and beneficial for both of us. I automatically, arrogantly, assume that I would enrich her life with my company.

“Tuesday March 25th, 7 a.m.: I called Sanita by intuition, or from a stray momentary urge, not knowing that she tried to call me the night before and wanted to talk and come out here — and I wanting the same and planning to ask even before I dialed, having turned over the idea a great deal earlier that afternoon. I was a little drunk sounding on the phone but quite lucid…

About two years after I wrote this journal I re-read and indexed all my diaries on their inside covers, the page numbers and dates and brief recaps of their contents. In this one alone I summed up the whole of it:

“A rambling but connected whole, with all the merits and defects of over-stimulated excitement in conversation. Brilliant ideas and phrases alongside nonsense and garble, all hastily writ out and much omitted and lost, a strong impression of the dizzying pace created by the abbreviation of narrative in its haste, a picture of me at the time, desperate, ill, not to last, a catastrophe bound for a change. Most amazing — not the ideas — but that in such a swirl any ideas emerged. A monstrous period, a freak. I wonder how I survived”.

Before I put this notebook away, I’ll include two more curious extracts, one, a reference to Norma Baker, whom I hadn’t seen and hardly thought of since the summer of 1980, just before returning to Canada for two years. She must have been in the back of my mind like a ghost, a ghost that was very soon to emerge and change my life again.

“Feb 28th, 7a.m.: If I knew I were to die shortly I would most likely burn these journals, unless I had offspring. They would be rightful heirs. It’s not much to admire or learn from, but a little goes a long way in family heritage. Our blood ancestors make the easiest heroes. They have the readiest entrance to our hearts…I knew a woman, Norma, a working, single mother in Marin, whom I spent six months around and never saw her read anything except one day, a ten-page pamphlet sent by some relative, her family history writ by her grandfather, rather poorly as they were country folks but pure poetry to her in its simple narrative and parade of names”.

The second was my first meeting with Steve L. and his new wife Consuelo. I’ve already mentioned him in the ‘Beowulf’ quote fourteen pages back but not the details of the party that night. Louie had introduced us at his place one afternoon, briefly. The night of this party at Steve’s warehouse-like lodgings, Louie asked me along, saying there would be many people there. As we enter the room, I see at least twenty people gathered around a long table, all visibly happy.

It’s still early, 8.p.m. I have nothing with me, so I beat a hasty retreat to ‘C’’s house and come back in twenty minutes with a zip-lock bag filled with an eight-ball of speed. I throw this right into the center of the table as I enter the door. To my surprise Steve immediately scoops it up, (though everyone saw it) and pulls me aside and tells me that most of his guests are straight, along with his reputation, but that he and Consuelo and a half dozen of his friends would love to indulge, secretly, which we immediately begin to do in the upstairs bathroom, single file.

That night, glancing through his record collection, I discover he has the same, rare Bach’s complete organ works, the eighteen-volume set, that I had in college. This coincidence and the Beowulf quote amaze me. The others all leave by two a.m. but Steve, Consuelo and I stay up talking at their small kitchen table intimately well past 4 a.m.

I’m even more impressed, perhaps enamored, by Consuelo, the glow on her face and the enthusiasm in her talk. She had just married Steve a few weeks earlier and seemed to have an aura, a halo about her as she talked to him and me, an overflowing excitement in her new life just beginning, with so many possibilities and unexpected joys around every corner. She took my sudden, new-found friendship with Steve and our intimate talk as her gain too. A woman in the full bloom of love is a miracle to see, and that night I saw it. She is the 'godmother', (whatever that means) to my son, present at his birth.

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B.A. in Latin and Greek from U.C. Berkley. Writer, Blogger and retired Electrician.

Robert O'Reilly
Robert O'Reilly

I am educated in the Western Classical Tradition, B.A. from U.C. Berkeley in Latin and Greek, English major, one year at U. of Toronto, studied under Alain Renoir and Northrop Frye, read most classics full time for many years after university in French, English, Latin and Greek to the modern day. I am interested in the near future of technology, what changes it imposes upon our heritage and character as humans. Short stories and Essays are my medium.

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